Art teacher Yolanda Lyn considers art a means to emotional well-being. Teaching remotely has challenged her to create lessons that will help all her students at PS 194 in Harlem continue to feel connected to their classmates and to the world.
“I grew up in this neighborhood,” she said, “so I want to serve this community.”
Lyn stayed after school in September to distribute art supplies — crayons, water colors, brushes, construction paper — to parents so students would have materials to meet their remote assignments for “tangible” art. And, to reduce anxiety, she made assignments by the week so students would be able to work at their own pace. For students who finish assignments quickly and like experimenting, she provides alternative projects.
She sets Google meet times after school with students and their families to work on missing and incomplete art projects.
Maribelle Ortiz, whose child is a 1st-grader studying remotely, is one of the many parents who went to school to pick up the art supplies.
“That was a great thing to do,” she said. “Miss Lyn is the best art teacher because she is concerned and recognizes that students work at different speeds. She works with each child and calls them at home.”
In addition to making tangible art and crafts such as origami, Lyn has used Google Classroom to create two visual arts classrooms — one for lower grades and one for upper grades. The classrooms have an assignment section for all tasks and provide a peer artwork section so students can view each other’s work and offer feedback, an alternative to the school art gallery shows that were held before the pandemic.
Chapter Leader Stephanie Perez says that Lyn’s spirit and creativity are present in the mural she created on the school’s second floor using student ideas to represent each word in the school acronym POWER — perseverance, optimism, wisdom and responsibility — with a section memorializing the three PS 194 students who lost their lives in an apartment fire in 2019.
“Ms. Lyn also beautifully decorated three garden boxes placed in the front of the school building in their memory with love,” Perez said.
Lyn, who always refers to her students as “my scholars,” is optimistic this may not be a “lost year” because, she said, “What students have learned about creating art technologically will help them to be fluent in the technological aspects of media literacy.”
But she is looking forward to getting back to classes in her art room in September. “I want to see that gleam again in my scholars’ eyes when I hang their artwork,” she said.